Games: Bridge

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Carried away by his distribution and controls, North did too much bidding on this deal. Fortunately his partner was more cautious and they ended in a sensible contract. Less fortunately, South missed a slight extra chance in the play that would have made all the difference.

South opened 14 and North responded 4# - a splinter purporting to show diamond shortage, spade support, and game-going values. (As the young lady said of her fiance: "He's tall, dark and ... oh well, two out of three can't be too bad.") South cue bid 5C and North, still not satisfied, repeated his diamond bid to show a void. South jumped to 64 and, believe it or not, North had the nerve to think before passing.

West led #5 and declarer saw matters in a simple light. He won, drew trumps, ruffed a diamond, then led the ace and another heart. It was all over, for West now had two heart tricks to cash.

What was the extra chance that South missed? Suppose he ruffs the opening lead on the table and trumps a low club in hand. He continues cross-ruffing in the minor suits (yes, including ruffing #A for the extra entry that he needs - after all, one heart discard from dummy would not have helped) and finally draws trumps. Then he crosses to !A and tries 2A. If the adverse clubs are 4-4, he has two heart discards from hand and can claim; and if the clubs do not behave, there is still the basic chance of finding a favourable heart position.